When I started this series, I expected some push back and some ideas I had not considered. Got both. What I was not ready for was the number of people who would try to convince me having an affair or planning to have one is the most common reason a woman seeks a divorce, that women commit adultery as much (one fellow said more) than men, or if she’s not having an affair now it’s inevitable she will if she keeps pushing for a divorce. There seem to be more than a few men out there who think the plethora of well-done studies on adultery are wrong (or intentionality dishonest) and apparently women are so desperately horny for sex with anyone other than their husband that it’s amazing they are not doing it in public.
Okay, the last bit is me, but it’s the logical conclusion if you believe what some have told me. If it were one or two men who said something like this, I’d write it off, but I’ve had more than a dozen. Yes, I know some women cheat, but that does not explain what I am hearing. I find myself wondering why some men make it about, or want it to be about, sex. Why would “she must be having or is about to have an affair” somehow make it easier for a man? Is as simple as the only reason he can think of? Is he projecting male sexuality onto women? Does adultery let him off the hook with his friends and church?
The reason aside, that some men are so focused on a sexual explanation for a wife divorcing concerns me. I’ve had a couple of guys flat out tell me it’s the ONLY reason their wife (and one even said any woman) would want a divorce. I am baffled! Is it so hard to imagine a woman might be miserable in her marriage for reasons other than sex? If a man can’t imagine any other reason a woman would want out of her marriage, I suspect his wife may well be unhappy in her marriage!
Here’s the thing, women are far more about relationships, feelings, and emotions than they are about sex. What’s more, they usually are not much about sex at all unless those other things are working well. When a woman does cheat, it is rarely for the sex, but rather because she is getting other needs met and the sex just happens as a natural part of it. Yes, there are exceptions, but those are just that – exceptions! If a wife is getting what she needs outside the bedroom from her husband, the odds of her having sex with another man are slim. If her husband is not providing what she needs outside the bedroom, she is going to be unhappy in her marriage, which can lead to divorce with or without an affair.
Please do not think I am saying a woman is right to divorce just because she is unhappy – she is not. But it happens, and it is happening with increasing frequency – even in the church. There was a time when a man was pretty safe from divorce if he did not beat his wife, get drunk all the time, or openly cheat; those days are gone. It’s no longer enough to simply not be too bad; fail to be a halfway decent husband and you may find you are no longer a husband. Yes, it’s horrible a woman would divorce for any little thing; it’s also horrible a man would fail to work on his marriage and give his wife some “little thing” she sees as cause for divorce.
One other reality check – in most of the “modern world” a woman does not need a man in the way women needed men in the past. Our modern world is less physically demanding, and less threatening and scary in many ways. There are plenty of jobs for women, and plenty of places offering help for women. A woman with three kids and nothing but a GED won’t have it easy, but such a woman can make a go of it for herself and her children.
The bottom line is we must live in the world we have. We live in a world where not having biblical grounds for divorce means nothing to a growing number of folks, including more and in the church. Those who don’t deal with the reality of our world are at a disadvantage. While I think we should preach how it should be, we also need to see how it is and make intelligent choices and decisions based on reality.
By the way, none of what I’ve said should be read as me thinking a wife should have to put up with being treated wrong. I am arguing against those whose only defence to their wife wanting a divorce is “she does not have a biblical right”. Telling a woman that does not stop divorces, even if she does not have a right. It’s a waste of time – deal with the reality.
Finally: someone sent me a link to MIDLIFE For Dummies. What is sad/scary about this very tongue in cheek article is I’ve actually had men say some of what is there as if it was a good (or even) godly plan. I’ve also seen a good many examples of men and women who were doing some of what is “advised” there. If you’re doing anything in that article, I’d suggest a hard look at yourself, and seeking help from someone to help you not do things that can only harm your marriage!